A Vision So Noble

A Brewster Buffalo bibliography

Contributions from Jim Maas, Dan Ford, Ora Lassila, John Simonson, Matti Yrjola, Ben Schapiro, Kevin Grantham, Jukka Raustia, Birgir Thorisson, Bob Clarke, Denis Peck, Mark Haselden, Paul Andriessen, Jukka Juutinen, Brian Thomas (cited as bt2 :), "Krztalizer," Tero Tuominen, Paul Macmillan, John MacGregor, Karl Rosenlof, Mike Holt (mh2). If a book is available at Amazon.com (the US store), I provide a link. Additions welcome; send to the webmaster


J D Balfe, War Without Glory, MacMillan (Australia) 1984. RAAF ops 1941-42, including Buffaloes over Malaya. [jmac]

John Bennett, Defeat Into Victory, Royal Australian AF Museum 1994. History of RAFF 453 Sq. First half covers 453's ops with the Buffalo over Malaya. (Not to be confused with Field Marshal Slim's memoir.) [jmac]

Angelucci & Bowers, The American Fighter, pp.90-92, photos, short summary, 3-view drawings, specifications table [bc]

P C Boer, De Luchstrijd Rond Borneo, Van Holema & Warendorf 1987, and De Luchstrijd om Indie, same publisher 1990. Dutch with superficial English summary. These two tomes probably represent the work on the Dutch air operations in Netherlands East Indies and particularly Model 339 actions. ISBN 90-269-4253-2 and 90-269-4160-9 respectively. [jm]

Eric Brown, Duels in the Sky, Naval Institute Press 1988. Writes briefly of the Buffalo, in terms much like his earlier book below. [bt]

---- Wings of the Weird and Wonderful, Hikoki Publications 2010. Contains a short chapter on the Brewster 339. [bt]

Byk, Gary: Buffalo Down Under: The Modeller's Guide to Australia's Inherited Fighter Red Roo Models Publication, 1998, no ISBN, may be available through Red Roo Models, PO Box 113, Glen Waverly, Victoria Australia 3150 (EMail redroo@entityconnect.com.au), 124 pages, many b&w photos and tech drawings, $Au30.00. Text covers RAAF use of the Buffalo in Malaya and in Australia, as well as background on Brewster, the Miranda Brothers, and short histories of other variants. Particular noteworthy is information on Australian modification (with tech drawings) of ex-NEI 339-23's for photo recon work, correlation of US 5th Air Force and RAAF serials, and details of equipment (mainly referenced to British B-339E's). Gary also offers theories regarding the use of US Neutrality Gray as an undersurface color on the British order Buffaloes. This book should be part of the Buffalo fan's collection, but print run is limited to 500 copies. [jm]

Martin Caidin, "Jungle Rats," in The Rugged, Ragged Warriors, Dutton 1966, Bantam 1979. Australian Buffalo pilots in Malaya, entertaining but highly suspect. [df]

---- chapter four, Everything But the Flak, Popular Library 1964. Subject is B-17s, but pp 41-50 describe the career of Greg Board, a Buffalo pilot in 453 Squadron in Malaya. [dp]

Gerard Casius and Thijs Postma, 40 Jaar Luchvaart in Indie, Uitgeverij De Alk BV 1986. Dutch. Coverage of ML-KNIL in Netherlands East Indies, including Brewster Model 339 squadrons. ISBN 90-6013-944-5. [jm]

Robert Cressman and others, A Glorious Page In Our History: The Battle of Midway, Pictorial Histories 1990. Includes VMF-221 battle with some detail additional to Prange's coverage. ISBN 0-929521-40-4. [jm]

Brian Cull and others, Buffaloes Over Singapore: RAF, RAAF, RNZAF and Dutch Brewster Fighters In Action Over Malaya and the East Indies 1941-42, Grub Street 2003. Meticulous detail, some of which has previously appeared in Christopher Shores's Bloody Shambles.

Francis Dean, America's Hundred Thousand: The US Production Fighter Aircraft of World War II, Schiffer 1997. This splendid book devotes 33 pages to the Buffalo, which just squeaked under Dean's definition of American WWII fighters. Drawings, many photos, a Buffalo chronology, performance graphs, pilot comments, structural details--much good stuff. ISBN 0-7643-0072-5 [df]

Arthur Donahue, Last Flight From Singapore. Donahue was an American pilot in the RAF. "Last Flight" covered his ordeals as a Hurricane pilot during the Japanese invasion of Malaya and Singapore. [mh]

The latest (last?) Jeff Ethell book, Pacific War Eagles, includes a forward by Marion Carl who flew a Grumman F4F at Midway. To quote in part: "The Brewster gained a terrible reputation based on that one event [Midway] but it's probably undeserved. Personally I liked the F2A because it was lighter and somewhat faster than the F4F. Its main fault was poor carrier landing suitability, which was largely irrelevant to Marines". [jm] (I can't find this book anywhere -- DF)

Daniel Ford, The Sorry Saga of the Brewster Buffalo, Warbird Books ebook 2013. Written with help from Jim Maas, Panu Kolju, Ben Schapiro, and others. [df]

O'Dowd Gallagher, Action in the East, Verdun ebook 2010 (Doubleday 1942). Gallagher was a South African news reporter who worked in Singapore and Burma during the Japanese invasion. First-person account of 67 Squadron in Rangoon. [mh, df]

Flying Tigers

Green & Swanborough, Flying Colors, 1990; pp.118-119, Color Side Views of Buffaloes (same as Air Enthusiast #1 Article) [bc]

J.H.N. Greuter, M. Schep, L. Boerman, J. Bossong, CAMOUFLAGE EN KENTEKENS, 1997 B. V. Bonneville (Dorpsstraat 13, 1861 KT Bergen nh, Netherlands) ISBN 90 73304 57 1. 280 pages, A4 format. Comprehensive coverage of all Netherlands aircraft camouflage and markings from 1914 to present. Text is in Dutch only (the brief English section is little more than an index). Even so, this is a seminal work on the subject. The ML-KNIL [Dutch East Indies air force] section opens up major revisions on the topic of markings for ML-KNIL aircraft, particularly the Buffalo. Yellow fuselage stripe with blue spinners for the third patrouille of 2-Vl.G.V, for example (white stripe with red spiiner for the first patrouille which seems to be the one we have photos of: B-3110, for example. We've known the uppersurface colors to be OD 41 and Medium Green 42, but now know the Dutch color names: oldleaf and youngleaf. More info as I tease it out (and find someone to do some translating...) [jm]

Hall, E. R. (Bon), Glory In Chaos: The RAAF in the Far East in 1941-42, published by the Sembawang Association, 75 Donne Street, West Coburg, Victoria, Australia, 1989 [bt2]

Hugo Hooftman, Van Glenn Martins en Mustangs, Alle vliegtuigen die hebben gevlogen bij het KNIL, de Indische militaire luchtvaart (About Glenn Martins and Mustangs, all airplanes which have flown at the KNIL, the Indies military air flight). Published in the 1960s, about 60 pp. [pa]

Jones, U.S. Naval Fighters, pp. 149-154, Photos, 3 View drawing, short summary [bc]

Ilmari Juutilainen, Double Fighter Knight, Apali Oy 1996. Translation by Lt. Gen. Heikki Nikunen FAF and Rear-Admiral Paul T. Gillcrist USN. Memoirs of the top Finnish ace "Illu" Juutilainen. Good insight into air combat over Finland, 1939-1945, from pilot's pastime to air combat tactics. Maps of main battle areas, pictures, summaries of main aircraft types and FAF and Soviet war-time force levels. (Go to the link for excerpts.) ISBN 952-5026-04-03. [jr/jl]

Joppe Karhunen, Taistelulent{jien jatkosota, Tammi publishing, n.d. Very good book about Finnish Air Force in Continuation War, includes several personal accounts. Karhunen got 26+ kills with Brewster, thus being the 3rd best Brewster pilot. ISBN 951-31-0132-0 [jr]

Kalevi Keskinen et al, Brewster B-239 ja Humu, Vol. 1 in the Tietoteos 'Suomen Ilmavoimien Historia series 1970, Apali Publishing 1995. Best available source about Finnish Buffaloes. Includes photo texts in English, a comprehensive English summary, and each plane's history. ISBN 951-9035-16-8 or 952-5026-02-07. [jm/my/jr]

Marja Lampi and Vladimir Prytkov, Kadonneen Brewsterin metasästys (Helsinki: ja Minerva Kustannus Oy, 2007). A Finnish account of the recovery of BW-372, now under restoration in Finland, with many black-white photographs and reproduced documents, some in English.

John Lundstrom, The First Team: Pacific Naval Air Combat from Pearl Harbor to Midway, Naval Institute Press 2005 (other editions 1984, 1990). Mentions Buffs in service with navy and marine squadrons, 1941-42. [df]

Eino Luukkanen, Fighter Over Finland: The Memoirs of a Fighter Pilot, Time Life 1992 (facsimile of the Macdonald edition 1963). Good book about the Winter War and the Continuation War, with a first-person account of obtaining Brewster 239s from Sweden and flying them in combat against the Red Air Force. [df]

Jim Maas, F2A Buffalo in Action, Squadron-Signal #81, 1987. Jim literally wrote the book on the Brewster fighter. Good pictures, including color views. [df]

Kenneth Munson, Fighters and Bombers of World War II, p.27, Color 3 View of Finnish B239; p.103, Short summary drawing [bc]

Walter Musciano, Warbirds of the Sea: A History of Aircraft Carriers and Carrier-based Aircraft, Schiffer 1994. Several references to the Brewster Buffalo. Musciano was a designer at Brewster under Dayton Brown. The book "describes in chronological order the development of aircraft carriers.... It has a lot of pictures and drawings. Drawings are 3-views, some aircraft are depicted in a side sectional drawing. Carriers are depicted with a side view and a deck plan. Walt has done all the drawings. Photoreproduction is excellent. The author has devoted a lot of space to combat descriptions." [js/jj]

Michael O'Leary, "United States Navy Fighters of World War II In Action" (Blandford Press 1980 and 1984. ISBN 0 7137 0956 1 and 0 7137 1473 5). The chapter on the Buffalo covers 11 pages and is entitled "Buffalo - The Unmitigated Disaster" so I don't think I need expand on the author's viewpoint! Some interesting photographs including one of a formation of Bermudas breaking to port. Also a rather inaccurate cutaway and there are some major factual errors and a significant glossing over of details (ie 243 Sqn RAF "had virtually all its aircraft destroyed on the ground, as they sat parked in neat rows, in late January when the Japanese bombed Kallang. However, it's not all bad there is a useful section on the allocation of F2A-2s to VF-2 and the "war diary" of that unit. [mh]

Now Comes Theodora

Waldemar Pajdosz, F2A Buffalo, Monografie Lotnicze #10, Agencja A.J. Press 1993. Polish. Good 1/72nd scale drawings of variants, color artwork and reproduction of factory F2A-2 inboard profile drawings. ISSN 0867-7867. [jm]

Gordon Prange, Miracle at Midway, Open Road Media 2018 (McGraw-Hill 1982). Marine Buffaloes at Midway. See J. Bryan below. [df]

Jukka Raunio, Lentajan Nakokulma II (Pilot's Viewpoint Vol. II), Forssan Kirjapaino Oy 1993. Finnish; English summary by Pentti Manninen; be sure to ask for it. Coverage of the tchnical/flight aspects of the major imported fighters of the Finish Air Force 1935-45, including the Model 239; scale drawings by Manninen. (Very good about technical side of the Finnish WW II fighters. ISBN 951-96866-0-6. [jm/jr]

Christopher Shores & others, Finnish Air Force, 1918-1968, Arco-Aircam #14 1969. Many pictures, including color views. [df]

----- Air War for Yugoslavia, Greece and Crete, 1940-41 ebook 2008 (Grub Sreet 1987). Scattered mention of 805 Squadron Buffs at Crete; photos. [df]

-----, Bloody Shambles 2 vols, Grub Street 1992, 1993. Good accounts of RAF and Dutch Buffalo squadrons in Southeast Asia, with many excerpts from combat reports. Photos.

-----, Aces High: A Tribute to the Most Notable Fighter Pilots of the British and Commonwealth Forces of WWII, Grub Street 1994. Brief sketches of British Commonwealth fighter squadrons and aces. Fighters are not indexed so you must know what you're looking for. ISBN 1-898697-00-0. [df]

-----, "Brewster Buffalo," Aircraft Profile #217, Profile Publications. Some of this is outdated by Maas's and indeed Shores's own later publications, so don't rely on it totally. [ol/df]

Kari Stenman, Lentolaivue 24. Osprey Elite Aviation Units series, 2001. Story of the fighter squadron that flew the Brewster against the Red Air Force [df]

Gordon Swanborough & Peter Bowers, United States Navy Aircraft Since 1911, Naval Institute Press 1990, pp.b71-72, photo, short summary and 3-view drawing [bc]

Owen Thetford, Aircraft of the Royal Air Force Since 1918, pp.108-109, photo, short summary and 3-view drawing [bc]

J Helsdon Thomas, Wings Over Burma, Merlin Books 1994, 1996. Squadron life by a fitter for RAF 67 Sq in Burma. [jmac]

US Navy Carrier Fighters of WW II, Aerodata / Squadron Signal Publications #6204; pp.1-20, Comprehensive article, photos, color profiles, 5-view drawings with cross sections and details [bc]

Robert Winston, Aces High, Holiday House 1941. Gee-whiz story by ex-navy pilot who went to Sweden and France as a check pilot for Brewster 239s and 339. Translated into Finnish as Lento Suomeen, published by Tietoteos. [df,jj]

Magazine articles

Aeroplane magazine. "Buffalo Back From Extinction" (photos of BW-372 recovery), March 1999 [pm]

William B. Allmon, "Midway Island's Undaunted Defenders," in World War II, Vol 11 No 1, May 1996. A fair amount devoted to the Buffalo, and a nice photo of what looks to be an echelon-right formation peeling off into a dive. [js]

Aviation News, vol 8 no 2, 22 June 1979. 1/72nd scale plans.[ol]

Avions #4-5, June-July 1993 has a two-part article on Dutch East Indies Army AF organization and markings, 1941-42. #4 also has an article on building and detailing the Matchbox 1/72 Buff.

Felix Basheimer, "Doomed by Destiny: Brewster Buffalo F2A," in Sea Classics, vol. 47, no. 8, August 2014; no. 9, September 2014.

Remains - A Story of the Flying Tigers

Tech Sgt William Bennett, "Brewster B-239 Taivaan Helmi (Sky Pearl) in Finnish Air Force Service," with drawings by K. Rosenlof. Fine detail drawings from a modeler's newsleter, IPMS-USA Quarterly, Vol.7 No.4, Winter 1972. [bc, kr]

"Brewster's Benighted Buffalo," in Air Enthusiast Quarterly #1, 1974, pp. 66-83. Generally good coverage but with some aspects which later research has impeached. Cutaway drawing is inaccurate. [jm]

Sir Robert Brooke-Popham, "Operations in the Far East," in Supplement to the London Gazette, 20 Jan 1948. Includes formation and disposition of Buffalo squadrons in Malaya and Burma, 1941, with Pop-off's view of the fighter. [df]

William Brooks, 2nd Lt USMC, "After Action Report, 4 June 1942," in The Yellow Sheet, Spring 1946. A Buffalo pilot's combat report from Midway, which moved the editor to note that it "appears to give more credit to the Buffalo than most others." [kg/df]

J. Bryan, "Never a Battle Like Midway," in Saturday Evening Post 26 Mar 1949. This is a major source of the bad rep the Buffalo got in USMC service. Prange used a lot from Bryan's account. [df]

FlyPast magazine. Reports on BW-372, February 1999, March 1999. [bs]

Gemeinhardt, Lucabaugh, & Martin in Aeroplane Monthly, Nov & Dec 1989 and Jan 1990. Three-part article on the development, RAF use, and US use of the Brewster 340/SB2A Bermuda. [jmac]

Jon Guttman, "Interview: Finland's Ace of Aces," in Military History, February 1999. 7 page article about Ilmari Juutilainen. [k]

Ilmailu magazine. "Pekurin Brewster nousi jarvesta Karjalassa" (short piece about the finding of BW-372 with photo from 1941), October 1998. "Brewsterin paluu" (color photos of recovery), November 1998. "Brewster myytiin" (more photos; cover photo of BW-372 at Segehza airfield), February 1999. [tt] [diacriticals missing in titles--sorry!]

IPMS-USA Quarterly Journal, vol 10 no 4, Summer 1975. Plans, detail photos. [ol]

Bjorn Karlstrom, Air Progress, November 1966, p.48, Finnish B-239, 4 View Drawing with cross sections, propellor and landing gear details [bc]

Malcolm Lecompte, "Naval Air Supremacy and the Development of the Brewster Buffalo," Journal AAHS, for November 1996.

Jim Maas, "The Brewster Buffalo," in Modelworld Vol. 2 No 2 (Oct 1973, pp. 68-75) and Vol. 2 No 4 (Dec 1973, pp. 179-184), Almark Publishing Co Ltd. Coverage of variants; the Squadron/Signal book and Pajdosz' drawings reflect subsequent refinements. [jm]

-----, "Fall From Grace: the Brewster Aeronautical Corp," in Journal AAHS, Summer 1985. Great account of the builder. Not one of your better basic Harvard Business School companies. [df]

Paul Matt, "Brewster F2A Buffalo," in Historical Aviation Album Vol. 5, 1967. 1/48 scale plan of F2A-3; seminal although now dated. [jm]

Anson McCullough, "Exploding the Zero Myth," in Airpower, vol. 26 no. 3, May 1996, pp 8 - 41. Primarily about the Zero but each of the early adversaries is discussed. Several photos of RAF and Dutch Buffalos including a color shot of a NEI B-339D on a test flight over the Atlantic. Center spread is a Gerald Asher painting of a VMF-221 F2A-3 in a head on with a A6M2. [bs]

Anson McCullough, "Requiem for a Pint Sized Pioneer," in Air Classics,Vol.3, No. 6, July 1967, pp 16-23+. 18 pics, badly reproduced, mostly the common stuff, + 3 colour side-views. Text emphasizes "sweet flying characteristics were refined out of it." This sympathetic treatment was apparently inspired by H.S. Packard (Interview: "Carrier Pilot", in A/C Vol.3 No.1) who flew F2A3 with VF-2 in 1941/42 and liked it. That "much maligned honey .... could outmaneuver any Wildcat ever built". "Of the 54 various aircraft flown over the years, the Brewster holds a fond spot in my memory". His main complaint is that the undercarriage "tore off more often than could be lived with" (he is talking of the -A3). [BT]

Jarmo Mikkonen, "Brewster 339E Buffalo: The Luckless Defender of Singapore," in AAHS Journal, vol 43 no 2, Summer 1998. A long, detailed, and mostly excellent account of the Buffalo in British service in Southeast Asia; interviews with New Zealand veterans. Some new pictures, too. [df]

Joe Mizrahi, "Farewell to the Fleet's Forgotten Fighter: Brewster F2A," in Air Power March 1972. A more sympathetic account than most. Good pix. [df]

Lucien Moreau in *Avions #66, September 1998, article and photos of the Belgian Buffs and other a/c dumped from the French aircraft carrier Bearn after June 1940. [jmac]

Walter Musciano, "Brewster Buffalo: Finland's Unlikely Acemaker," in Aviation History, November 1996. A good account of the B-239 in Finnish service, with some speculations on why it did better there than elsewhere. [jm,bs,df]

100 Hawks for China

James Sanders, "The Brewsters of Fighting Two," in Journal AAHS Vol. 14, No. 3, Fall 1969. Good description of VF-2 activities immediately before and after outbreak of the war in the Pacific. [jm]

Skyways #55, July 2000. David Ostrowski, the journal editor, contributes a ten page summary of Anacostia flight tests of the XF2A-1, F2A-1 and XF2A-2 models; he also throws in another seven pages of detail factory photos of the XF2A-1 and -2, many new to this reviewer. More new photos come in Roy Meyers' six pages on F2A cockpits (-1, -2 and -3 variants), including the elusive rear deck. Skyways issues are available from WW1 Aero, 15 Crescent Road, Poughkeepsie NY 12601. [jm]

Kari. Stenman, "38 to 1: The Brewster 239 in Finnish Service," in Air Enthusiast, Vol 46, 1992. [df]

Dennis Teague in Airfix, January 1987. Improving Revell's 1/72 Buff, with 6 side-views including one of an 805 Sq RN aircraft in Egypt, 1941. [jmac]

Barrett Tillman, "Brewster's Embattled Buffalo," in Flight vol. 1, no. 1 Summer 1996, pp 56 - 61. Covers the operational history of the Buffalo quickly with a recounting of VMF-221's engagement at Midway. Tillman expresses the BBA's own position that the Buff could have done better. Finnish sidebar and some color. [bs]

War Planes of All Nations, Winter, 1944; pp.12-13, 3 View & Short summary [bc]

Avions, 29 rue Paul Bert, 62230 Oureau, France; lela.presse@wanadoo.fr


Lampi, Marja, et al. Hunt for the Lost Brewster (Tellustops Films, 2011). A lively documentary about BW-372's odyssey from combat to a Finnish museum, by way of a Russian lake, an Irish go-between, and the Museum of Naval Aviation in Pensacola. $35 for US orders from tellustopsfilms@gmail.com


Lowry, John G. Power-off wind-tunnel tests of the 1/8-scale model of the Brewster F2A airplane. NACA WR-L-543, June 1941. [mh2]

National Air & Space Museum library (Washington) Buffalo folder:

  • 71 Squadron (Eagle) flight test with comments by S/L Churchill, Oct 1940, and Ensign Gibson USN, Nov 1940.
  • Royal Aircraft Establishment, "Handling Tests on Buffalo," by Nivison, Jul 1941.
  • Aeroplane & Armament Experimental Establishment, "Night Flying Trials," Aug 1941.
  • Air Fighter Development Unit Report #23, "Brewster Fighting Trials," Nov 1941. [df]

    The British National Archives in Kew (near London) contains the Operation Record Books of RAF Buffalo squadrons in Malaya and Burma, 1941-42. [df]

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    Sorry Saga of the Brewster Buffalo

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